As those of who watched the recent LWV forum know, not everyone got to answer every question, and for many questions, we only had 30 sections to respond. So as promised, here are some of the answers I would have given, if I had been given the chance by format. If you missed it, here is a link.
Should we bring back high school final exams? Yes, but in a way that works and that makes sense for our students and our schools. While our students should not be subjected to tests that don’t help them prepare for their future, or that don’t help all of us make informed decisions, they deserve a chance to demonstrate what they know and a chance to practice what is a valuable skills for college success.
How will I encourage effective community engagement? We need to provide families and community members with multiple avenues to meaningfully engage with MCPS at all levels, from the Board of Education to the classroom, and we need to support them in that engagement. It is not enough to say that you welcome parent engagement; you need to support that engagement by giving parents the best tools available to help them engage effectively. For example, MCPS can do a better job of providing translation services, providing more notice, advancing the use of technology by making more widely available, moving meeting locations, or even providing childcare and meals. There is not a one size fits all solution here and finding the tools we need for effective community engagement first requires listening to everyone in our community.
How would you address the disproportionate discipline of minority students? Restorative practices have shown a great deal of potential for creating strong and supportive school communities and keeping students at risk of leaving school engaged and connected with school, and I would support the implementation of restorative practices in our schools. I also think it is important to ensure that our teaching corps and curriculum reflect our community and that we support our classroom teachers so that they can work to keep students in class and learning.
How would you support students who are very far below grade level, and/or are overage and under-credited? I very much appreciated the focus at the forum on preventing students from getting to a place where they are in this position. However the reality is that we must also serve the students who are over-age and under-credited, or who come to us very far below grade level. We cannot forget these students – they need our help and deserve a path to success. I am thankful that I have board level experience serving these students; I have found that highly individualized programming that serves the whole student, combined with a competency based pathway to a high school diploma, is effective. However, we can not do this alone, I support working with MSDE, Montgomery College and other community partners to create meaningful alternatives for these students.